(This was originally written for Spark, but doesn’t seem to be going online anytime soon, so here it is. I spent too much time writing it for it to go unread.)
I don’t condone illegal downloading, but this is a special case. Having been disappointed by their previous efforts, or what can effectively be titled as everything since Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not, the snippets I heard before the entire album had not encouraged my trust in Messrs Turner, Helders, O’Malley and Cook. With expectations from Turner’s very impressive soundtrack to Submarine beforehand, here goes:
Thank God this song is first. Had it been Brick by Brick or the very laughable Don’t Sit Down … (more on those gripes later) I would have turned the album straight off. Harking back to the witty lyrics of their early days, with all the glamour of The Last Shadow Puppets, if they’d lived on a diet of The Strokes rather than Scott Walker. It must be said, I’m more than happy with this, it should be the next single …
Okay, the lyrics go a bit wobbly in this track, but the wondrous guitars and harmonies remain, winning me over completely. It certainly does help my point that this is the album they should have made 4 years ago, but this debate is the same for most band of the era. Would it sound as good without the maturity that they’ve developed over the years? Probably not, which is a shame, considering life without Humbug assaulting my ears would be very good indeed.
Brick By Brick
I’m not going to lie, no matter how many times I listened to this, I still hated it. Released as the first taster from the album, the heavy guitars and bass didn’t enamour me to the album, and didn’t really represent the album as a whole. If this weren’t here, it would be a near-perfect album. Oh, and as much as I love Matt Helders (I really really do), his crow-like vocals do nothing for the song.
Hellcat Spangled Shalalala
As ridiculous as the song title is, it’s another one of those swooning, crooning pop songs that Turner et al. do so well. Even though it does get heavier throughout the chorus, I can already imagine everyone singing the shalalala’s come festival season. And the twinkle of this song (yes I do realise how weird that sounds) is going to sound incredible being played as the sun sets at a festival …
Don’t Sit Down ‘Cos I’ve Moved Your Chair
The first official single from the album and a completely ridiculous on eat that. Whilst previous album Humbug may have been part-produced by Josh Homme from Queens Of The Stone Age, it’s on this track that his influence is most visible. Riff-tastic, almost psychedelic at times, and utterly baffling lyrics (‘Run with scissors through a chip pan fire fight’ or my personal favourite ‘Wear your shell suit on bonfire night’), it’s a nice break from having to think, if only for 3 minutes.
Along with Don’t Sit Down, there is a large drop in enjoyment of these two tracks on the album. Fair enough it may start with a jokey comment from Turner about wearing a vest, but the thunderous drums and heavy bass remind me far too much of Brianstorm. Not only that, but the jerky angular guitars sit very uncomfortably with the rest of the album. It has its good moments, and thankfully only lasts 2 and a half minutes. Anymore and I wouldn’t be able to stand it. Though kudos to the boys for getting an Eeny Meeny Miny Mo reference in to the song!
All My Own Stunts
Again heavier, but fairly agreeable, and another nice breather from any intellectual thought (am I the only person that seems to have to think about the songs as I listen to them? I bloody well hope not). As a matter of fact, it’s instantly forgettable, the sharp guitars and elongated notes that stink of Yorkshire swill around the head, straight in and straight back out again. I’m sure he says something about dancing and cowboy films but when I hear it I just want to give up.
Losing faith, this song is a blessing in disguise. Swooning lyrics dancing around on the tip of your tongue, somehow the Yorkshire accent sounds really attractive here. And this comes from a Yorkshire inhabitant that usually abhors the gruff tones. Another of those with a slight twinkle to the guitars, and a lovely tambourine peppered throughout, it signals a vast improvement after brief disappointment period.
I imagine most of you are familiar of this track, or you will be if you listened to Turner’s solo EP. Fearing this would be sacrilege on the EP version, part of me didn’t want to listen, but thankfully it is rather different. Instead of the gentleness of Turner’s we’re presented with a harsher sound, with added drums and bass, less of a romantic helplessness sound, more like a weathered old singleton serenading the latest squeeze. Just as beautiful as the original, and I think I’ll forever be enamoured with the idea of going for breakfast at the Heartbreak Hotel.
Love Is A Lazerquest
Another ridiculously titled track, and yet another slow sweet melody that really brings out the hopeless romantic within. Befitting his trademark swoon, the lyric ‘I’m not being honest, I’ll pretend that you were just some lover’ almost pulls on the heartstrings as much as the entirety of 505 (I do feel it’s time for me to stop making emotional attachments to songs). This song of love lost along the way saunters along, not too, fast not to slow, aching ever so slightly, its perfect for those long and painful nights that we all suffer.
Suck It And See
Another slow romantic number, managing to keep the mood alive whilst using the analogy ‘You’re rarer than a can of Dandelion and Burdock’, (man I’d love to be that can of D&B!) it starts almost where Cornerstone left off on Humbug. With a similar pace, and swooping guitars, this is the former track’s more mature, and much sexier older brother (or sister) that is possibly not only one of the best tracks on the album, but one of the best that I’ve heard all year. And ending on the lyric ‘Be cruel to me because I’m a fool for you’ just adds to the reminiscing lustfulness of the track.
That’s Where You’re Wrong
Very very similar to Suck It And See, as the track nears its end, I’m almost sad to see the album finish, which has crept up on me. Seemingly taking less inspiration from their own back catalogue, and looking more at the beautiful sounds they can create, That’s Where You’re Wrong ends a truly fantastic album that revives all hope in the band. A mature and gentler approach has revealed a romantic side to the band that they’ve previously shyed away from at times. It may not be the perfect album, but its damn near close and one of the best albums of 2011 so far.
And now kids, here’s the serious bit. The album is released on June 6th, though many of you may already have it. If you’ve been naughty like me, please make sure you spend that last little bit of your student loan on this album, it might not have the prettiest cover, but the music is worth every penny. And the band will also be appearing at the majority of the country’s music festivals, so if you catch them live, let us know what you think!